This article was based on episode 233 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get two months of Fast Forward membership for free. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.
Just as we don’t want to bring the stress of our work life home, we also don’t want to bring the stress of our home life to work. But let’s face it; we’re human. Stress in one part of our life invariably impacts the other. But how do we talk about and manage this stress in the office if we want to appear both professional and honest?
Andrea Liebross joins me to discuss the best ways to turn “stuck stress” into “productive stress” and how to bring your colleagues along in your stress management journey. Andrea is a certified business and life coach, speaker, podcast host, and soon to be published author who is known for helping bold, ambitious women make clear, confident decisions, so that they get exactly what they want every time.
MAKE STRESS LESS STRESSFUL
Despite its reputation, stress isn’t necessarily bad! It shows up in us biologically for a reason. We can use that energy better if we shift from focusing on the problem to focusing on the solution.
From Stuck Stress to Productive Stress
When we’re in ‘stuck stress’, the creative part of our brain (or Genius Brain) shuts down. We’re so focused on the problem that we can’t see a way out. The more we think about the situation, the more the stress keeps on increasing, without offering us any relief. To flip the switch to ‘productive stress’ mode, we need to become solution focused. As we shift to thinking about how to solve the problem or what we can do to improve the situation, the intensity begins to fade.
Plan in Advance
Andrea also suggests we focus on our vision and planning for the future to reduce surprises. Not all sources of stress can be predicted, but many major life stressors can be planned for. When you look one, three, or five years into the future, you can identify goals to work towards and likely stressful events (such as children, starting college, or aging parents needing more support). Then, when things get bumpy, you know this would have been part of the path and can shift your mindset to the productive zone.
While stress may still feel challenging to deal with in productive stress mode, the feelings are tolerable and we have enough bandwidth to move forward.
HOW TO SHARE YOUR LIFE IN AN APPROPRIATE WAY
Many of us develop wonderful personal relationships at work. Sharing your life outside of the office helps us feel connected to our colleagues, but it’s not always clear where the boundaries are. When things are tough at home, it's okay to clue your team members in so they can better understand and support you. Just be sure to do so in a professional manner.
Take Out the Guesswork
In the absence of facts, we make up our own. The best part of being open is that our colleagues don't have to guess what’s going on with us. If our coworkers notice us being anxious and grumpy, they will interpret those signals and come up with their own story to explain what’s going on. They may even worry we are mad at them. Being open about our life stressors allows others the insight to give us compassion when we’re not performing at our best.
Share the Facts and Skip the Drama
We want to come to our colleagues in productive stress mode instead of like a volcano spewing all of our worries and fears. When sharing personal details about our lives, it’s all about how we frame them. Share the facts while also framing your experience. For example, if you are dealing with moving aging parents out of their home, you may feel honored at the opportunity to be helping them while also overwhelmed at the tremendous amount of work it is to complete.
Let your team members know that your mood may shift over the next few weeks because this is a big deal for you. Framing it in this way offers your coworkers a window into your world without oversharing. Try not to share when you’re at the height of an emotional peak. Instead, choose a time while in solution-focused mode to make sure that your stress doesn’t spill over onto your team.
Share Your Manual
We all have our own “manuals” for how things should be: how long a reasonable sick leave is, what our manager relationship will be like, etc. When our expectations don’t match up, conflict and confusion arise. Being open about current stressors allows us to get on the same page and to understand each other better. When we know how we each react to life stressors, we can spot the clues that something is going on. This allows us the opportunity to support each other in the ways we each uniquely need.
Home life and work life are tied up as one. What affects us at work affects us at home, and vice versa. We don’t need to close off those two different worlds from each other. Being open about our home stressors when it starts impacting our work life is important—but this takes effort. We need to remember to first shift from stuck stress to productive stress mode, focusing on solutions. We need to focus on the facts and frame the situation so we can share both the positive and negative aspects of this stress in a way that feels balanced and authentic. In doing this, we clue our colleagues into why we may show up in certain ways. This adds a level of understanding and compassion that will help your team support one another. When we give our teams a glimpse into our home life, our bonds and collaboration strengthen to an incredible degree.
KEEP UP WITH ANDREA
Get $100 off Full Focus coaching AND free access to the 5 Days to Clear Thinking challenge when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 233 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.